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Former astronaut, New York Times best-selling authors, history-making Ohio Supreme Court justice among fall speakers

A former astronaut, a pair of New York Times best-selling authors and the first African-American woman elected to Ohio's Supreme Court highlight the slate of speakers coming to the University of Dayton campus this fall. Events are free and open to the public.

Stephen Robinson, an engineering professor at the University of California, Davis, and space advisor for "NBC Nightly News" who was part of NASA's "Return to Flight" mission following the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, and Sarah Smarsh, author of Heartland, "a memoir of working hard and being broke in the richest country on Earth," make up the fall University of Dayton Speaker Series.

During his talk —  "An Astronaut's Perspective on Human Spaceflight: Past, Present and Future" — at 7 p.m. Sept. 23, in the Kennedy Union ballroom, Robinson will discuss what it’s like to endure years of rejection and tragedy in the pursuit of a dream, and to come out stronger for it. He'll also share his experiences as an astronaut, such as training, the violent forces of launch, spacewalking and even playing a guitar while weightless on the International Space Station. His campus visit and talk is to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Smarsh's talk, about income inequality, takes place at 7 p.m. Oct. 21, in the Kennedy Union ballroom. Her book is a New York Times bestseller and was a finalist for the 2018 National Book Award. Smarsh, who was a 2018 Joan Shorenstein Fellow at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, has covered socioeconomic class, politics and public policy for The GuardianThe New York Times and The New Yorker, among others. 

The University will announce spring Speaker Series events later.

In addition to fall Speaker Series events, the University will welcome to campus New York Times best-selling author and founding director of The Antiracist Research & Policy Center Ibram X. Kendi as the University's Inclusive Excellence Scholar-in-Residence. Also, the University of Dayton School of Law, Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the Women's Center are bringing Ohio Supreme Court Justice Melody Stewart to discuss her journey to Ohio's premier judiciary.

Kendi's presentation, followed by a book signing, takes place at 7 p.m. Sept. 16, in the Kennedy Union ballroom. He'll also conduct a faculty and staff forum related to his book, How to be an Anti-Racist, 8:30 to 10 a.m. Sept. 17, in Kennedy Union 222. Kendi is the author of The Black Campus Movement, which won the W.E.B. Du Bois Book Prize, and Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, which won the National Book Award for Nonfiction. The University's Inclusive Excellence Scholar Residency explores how diversity, equity and inclusion is fundamental to advancing the University's Catholic and Marianist mission. It focuses on creating cultural intelligence and awareness of different identities and their significance in higher education. For more information on the residency, click here. 

Justice Stewart made history in November when she became the first African-American woman elected to the Ohio Supreme Court. At 7 p.m. Sept. 26, in the Kennedy Union ballroom, she will provide a glimpse of her resilience and determination to break barriers in reaching this career milestone. When she began her new role, Justice Stewart told Court News Ohio, "If it paints a picture in the mind of someone who came from the background that I came from, or who looks like me, that this is what our justice system should look like, this is a job that I can aspire to have one day, then that's a great thing." 

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News and Communications Staff